PUNE: In the last four months, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) demolished 8.5 lakh sq ft using Rs 2 crore of the tax payers' money, a top civic official said.
An official, who declined to be named, said that since July, the civic body has demolished 900 illegal buildings. "Expenses include the money spent on manpower and machinery and depend on the size of the building. It can range from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2 lakh per construction," said the senior official of the building permission department.
Other expenses include payment to contract labourers, hiring of excavators, transportation, communication, survey of illegal buildings, paper work and other staff expenses. There are other direct and indirect expenses such as providing police protection to the squad during the drive.
A demolition division that works under the building department and anti-encroachment department sends notices to illegal constructions before carrying out the demolition.
"The PMC carries out the drive using machines such as X-cutter which is more effective. The charges of this machine are Rs 250 per sq m," said Sudhir Kadam, PMC's executive engineer (building permission department).
Mukund Barve, an engineer of the department, said demolition rates vary. "If we calculate the total charges for demolition of one sq ft of illegal construction with manual works and PMC-owned smaller machinery, then the cost would be around Rs 20 per sq ft. If we go for highly-mechanized demolition with private contractor's machines and manpower, then the cost would be around Rs 32 per sq ft," he said,
The PMC officials said that during the last four months, the civic body has demolished around 2 lakh sq ft using the highly-mechanized demolition method, while the remaining around 6.5 lakh was demolished manually and using smaller machinery.
The demolition team comprised 100 civic officials and 100 workers, as well as 120 police personnel. As many as 12 JCBs, 10 breakers and 10 gas cutters were used during the demolition drive. Even vehicles such as vans, cars and trucks are used in the drive.
Recovering cost from developers a tough task
The civic administration has been unable to recover the expenses incurred in its drive against illegal constructions from the developers responsible for the structures.
"The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is using taxpayers' money for the demolition work and hardly any money has been recovered. Despite sending repeated notices to developers, they have not paid even a single rupee to the civic body," said a senior official.
PMC executive engineer (building department) Sudhir Kadam said that the administration is following up the matter. "We are trying to recover the money through the property tax payments of the developers," he said.
The civic body has carried out its drive against illegal construction in Taljai, Dhankawadi, Kharadi, Shivajinagar, Janwadi, Gokhalenagar, Baner, Balewadi, Pashan, Vadgaonsheri, Kalas, Dhanori and Warje-Karvenagar.
Civic activists say that apart from developers, the money should also be recovered from those who support them. "Strict action is required against these people. If the current methods are not working, new ways should be found to collect money from the developers," said Vivek Velankar, president of Sajag Nagrik Manch.
Activist Vishwas Sahashtrabuddhe said, "The money should be recovered from those involved in illegal constructions, but the PMC should also impose an additional penalty on them. The taxpayers' money is for development of the city and the PMC is spending it on demolition."